15 February 2016 | Star Wars: Rebellion

Pivotal Moments in the Galactic Civil War

The Developers of Star Wars™: Rebellion on Its Emergent Narrative

"You know of the Rebellion against the Empire?"
     –Luke Skywalker

Begin the countdown. Star Wars™: Rebellion is on schedule for a March 31st release!

An epic board game that encompasses nearly everything you love about the classic Star Wars trilogy and the Galactic Civil War, Star Wars: Rebellion places you in command of either the entire Galactic Empire or the fledgling Rebel Alliance. You gain unparalleled control of your side's military forces, as well as its most renowned leaders.

Over the course of our Rebellion Week previews, we explored how you can use these leaders to attempt secret missions, maneuver your fleet through the galaxy, and contest your enemy in heated battles. We also explored the game's asymmetrical win conditions and the intricate layers of bluffing that they promote, as well as the game's mechanics for influencing (or subjugating) systems and harnessing their resources to increase your military might.

Still, as we noted in our final Rebellion Week preview, the game is never an even contest. The Galactic Empire has the far stronger military, and savvy Imperial players will never lose that edge. Instead, they will be able to leverage their early military strength and political influence in order to extend those advantages as the game plays out. So as much as Star Wars: Rebellion is a game of bluffing, political influence, military skirmishes, and your heroes' desperate attempts at missions, it is also very much a game about a tone that is immediately and uniquely Star Wars.

In today's preview, the game's creators Corey Konieczka and Steven Kimball offer a look at how this tone, combined with the game's many astonishing twists and turns, can lead to the emergence of a thrilling narrative that is as much a part of the game as any of its components and mechanics.

The Emergent Narratives of Star Wars™: Rebellion

From the start, the vision and scope of Star Wars: Rebellion was, in a word, epic. This game needed to depict the Star Wars universe in all its grandeur, even while preserving the character-centric focus of the original trilogy that made its primary heroes and villains so memorable. Despite the galaxy's immensity, the actions of these select few always had a significant impact, and we believed this theme would be essential to capturing the Star Wars experience in our game.

Another aspect of Star Wars: Rebellion that we felt was critical to capturing the Star Wars spirit is its tone. We wanted to make sure that the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance felt true to the source material. In the films, the Rebels were always outgunned, outnumbered, and on the run. Even though they were the galaxy’s best hope for defeating the Empire, they were always a hair's breadth from defeat, and the game's asymmetry really pushes this idea to the fore.

At the start of the game, it may look like the Empire has already won. Fleets of Star Destroyers and battalions of Stormtroopers have established control over vast portions of the galaxy. Things look bleak for the Rebels. Still, they don’t need to conquer the galaxy; they need to liberate it, and they are not alone. The people of the galaxy yearn to be free. In the films, the Empire never lost its military advantage, but the Rebels were able to win by destroying a couple of Death Stars, eliminating the top Imperial leaders, and convincing the populace to rise up and overthrow the Empire.

Likewise, in Star Wars: Rebellion, the Rebels will likely never possess the stronger military, and this means that while Imperial players can and should use their military strengths to their advantage, the Rebel player will want to focus on missions first and fleets second. In turn, the importance of these Rebel missions, in the face of such Imperial domination, sets the stage for any number of pivotal moments and the emergence of some truly thrilling narratives.

These narratives were easily among the things that we enjoyed the most during our early playtests. Each game effectively allows you to find a new way through the Star Wars saga, and due to the variety of decisions that you will face throughout the game, it is exceedingly rare that any two games will play out the same way.

To give you a better of idea of how the game leads you through its own, uniquely satisfying Star Wars narratives, here are just a few snippets from a few of our early games:

Example One: A Dark Time for the Rebellion

A daring Han Solo led a Rebel strike team to his homeward of Corellia, where they successfully sabotaged the Imperial starship factories that were stationed there. However, the smuggler still had a hefty bounty on his head, and he was unaware that the bounty hunter Boba Fett had tracked him to Corellia. Although Leia had learned of the bounty hunter's movements and rushed to Corellia to warn Han of the impending danger, she was too late, and Solo was captured.

Meanwhile, Grand Moff Tarkin was busy assembling a massive blockade over Saleucami, hoping to isolate the Rebel forces on Mon Calamari. Recognizing the threat, the Rebels assigned newly promoted commander Wedge Antilles and his Rogue Squadron to launch a risky attack against the blockade. There they were met not only by the Empire's capital ships but also by Soontir Fel and his elite 181st Squadron. Still, the Rebel's desperate gamble paid off. During the Battle of Saleucami, Wedge and the Rebels managed to deal the Empire a severe blow by taking down a Star Destroyer before retreating safely to their rendezvous point on Kessel.

Shortly afterward, an assault team led by Jan Dodonna and General Rieeken rescued Han from the Imperial prison on Corellia. But Han was only free for a short time—Darth Vader and Boba Fett caught up with him on Mandalore, and the smuggler was once again in the clutches of the Empire. They took him to an Imperial base where he was questioned about the Rebel base, but Solo valiantly resisted the interrogation droid's truth serum.

Meanwhile, under pressure from the Emperor, Moff Jerjerrod doubled his team's efforts and expedited the construction of a second Death Star, and the news of its completion caused ripples of fear to reverberate throughout the galaxy. The Rebels had won a few sorties, but with the Empire relentlessly probing the galaxy, Han Solo still in Imperial custody, and two “technological terrors” ready to destroy any unruly system, their hopes for victory hung desperately upon the success of their next few missions…

Example Two: Help Us, Obi-Wan Kenobi

As a demonstration of Imperial might, General Tagge mobilized the Death Star over Kashyyyk and fired the Superlaser, obliterating the planet and all the Wookiees who had called it home. In response to this act of terror, Jan Dodonna, Mon Mothma, and General Rieekan convened at Geonosis to determine their next move and rally more troops to their cause.

However, the activity on Geonosis led Imperial agents to report rumors of unrest, and Grand Moff Tarkin ordered an Imperial fleet there to investigate—and his efforts uncovered the Rebel base! A vicious battle ensued, but the Rebels won the day. The Imperial fleet lost all but a crippled Star Destroyer that was forced to limp back to Naboo for repairs.

Upon its arrival, the Star Destroyer was met by a special forces unit led by Obi-Wan Kenobi. The Rebels landed their troops beyond the Imperial blockade and routed the occupying Imperial troopers quite handily. Even though the Rebel space forces were destroyed in the process, Obi-Wan's leadership led to another crippling blow against the Empire, and the Naboo and Gungans celebrated their liberation from Imperial occupation.

Still, Obi-Wan's efforts did not come without a cost. When he came out of hiding, Darth Vader sensed his presence on Naboo, hunted down his former master, and captured him. Fortunately, Rebel command devised a plan to free the incarcerated Jedi, and Leia Organa led a strike team to Naboo, managing to rescue Kenobi before Vader could enact his vengeance upon the Jedi.

Nonetheless, the Rebel base was now exposed on Geonosis, and more Imperial troops were en route. Under the guidance of General Rieekan, the Rebel Alliance made preparations to establish a new base on Alderaan while Jan Dodonna journeyed to Nal Hutta to forge an alliance with the Hutts.

At this point, the Rebels had won a few critical battles, but Empire's fleets were still continuing their inexorable progress across the galaxy—with Admiral Ozzel launching probe droids to the different systems, Admiral Piett subjugating Ord Mantell, and General Tagge laying Imperial claim to Cato Neimoidia. The Rebel Alliance had established a considerable momentum, but with the Empire's probe droids scouring the systems and its terrifying battle station now fully armed and operational, it was too early for either side to be confident of victory…

Example Three: It's a Trap!

With the Death Star plans firmly in hand, Admiral Ackbar led a Rebel attack against the Death Star looming over Hoth. Although the two fleets appeared to be evenly matched at the system, the Imperials' true strength had been disguised. They overpowered the Rebels, and Darth Vader captured Ackbar at the battle’s conclusion.

Sensing that the Rebels had launched their desperate assault because the Empire's fleet had drawn near their secret base, the Imperials began to charge the Death Star's Superlaser. As Ackbar sat in one of the battle station's detention blocks, the technological terror slowly advanced on Endor—where the Imperials discovered the Rebel base!

As the Death Star moved into firing position, Grand Moff Tarkin summoned Ackbar from his cell, strapped him to a chair, and propped his eyelids open, forcing him to watch as the Superlaser obliterated Endor, along with the remaining Rebel forces…

These are the exact sort of stories that you might discover in Star Wars: Rebellion, full of twists and turns and heroic recoveries—just like the classic trilogy. The fact that different players have different information can also lead to gut-wrenching moments of drama. There are times that the Empire looks like it is absolutely going to find the Rebel base, and in their hearts, the Rebel players are freaking out. They can only think, “Please, don’t land on Yavin.”  But on the outside, they have to remain calm. In these moments, if the Rebels maintain their bluff, the Imperial players could be completely oblivious that their fleet is just one movement away from the Rebel base.

We find it fascinating that Star Wars: Rebellion allows the different players to live through such different, intense emotional states at the same time, and the bluffing aspect is a critical part of the game. It gives emotional resonance to the narratives you will create, and it allows the game to get better with age. The more that you play, the more you will find opportunities to try and exploit your opponent's psychological tendencies. The mind games start right away during setup: “Clearly, she won’t put the base on Hoth because that would be too… well, obvious. And she has already put the base on Nal Hutta twice, so there’s no way she’ll put it there again. She always hints at sticking the base on Alderaan, just cause it would be right under my nose, but it’s such a ridiculous notion that I never take her seriously… I wonder if she’ll try it this time?”

As Star Wars fans ourselves, we hope you will appreciate what Star Wars: Rebellion does to recreate all the tension and drama of the classic trilogy. Not only is the game deeply thematic, but there are all kinds of different strategies for you to explore on both sides. Planetary blockades, daring rescues, ground assault, political intrigue—they are all here. We hope that you enjoy experiencing the Star Wars galaxy on your tabletop as much as we enjoyed bringing it to life. Whether you ignite the spark of rebellion or aim to snuff it out, may the Force be with you!

Fight for the Galaxy in Star Wars: Rebellion

"Great shot, kid. That was one in a million."
     –Han Solo

Corey and Steven are not the only people at Fantasy Flight Games who are excited by the emergent narratives of Star Wars: Rebellion. We are pretty much all excited for the opportunity to battle for the fate of the galaxy with our heroes, villains, fleets, and ground troops. Will you also be swept up by the epic conflict between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance? Make sure to talk to your retailer and pre-order your copy of Star Wars: Rebellion today!

Then, keep your eyes open for more news, including a look at how the game functions in multiplayer!

Discuss this article
in our forums!

Back to all news